Mike Ashley bags another prize asset with Mulberry investment

Mulberry Ashley deal

Mike Ashley’s retail empire has bought a 12.5 per cent stake in Mulberry, the British maker of luxury handbags.

Frasers, previously known as Sports Direct International, gave no detail on what it had paid, but, based on yesterday’s share price, the stake is worth almost £19 million. In a brief statement announcing the acquisition, the company said that the elevation of Frasers’ retail proposition and strengthening of relationships with “premium third-party brands” were priorities. A Mulberry bag can cost as much as £1,295.

Mr Ashley’s lieutenants had been in talks with the fashion house for months because its products are sold by House of Fraser, which he bought in 2018.

The tycoon has completed several takeovers of retailers in recent years, including those of Game Digital and Evans Cycles. Some of his investments have been less successful than others: Debenhams, the department stores chain, fell into administration last year and Goals Soccer Centres collapsed after an accounting scandal.

Mulberry has been under pressure in recent months, suffering a loss of £9.9 million before tax in the six months to September 28. Its executives have blamed heavy discounting and market conditions.